Practice will only get you so far, natural ability seems to be a prerequisite when it comes to sprinters according to a new study.

The study looked at the biographies of various male and female US sprinters. They found, without exception, that each sprinter was recognised as exceptionally fast before the commenced formal training.

“We expected that most sprint champions’ biographies would indicate that they were always the fastest kid in their neighborhood, even before they did any formal training or received any coaching. But the consistency of the pattern was surprising – from Helen Stephens, a 1936 Olympian, to Usain Bolt, there were no exceptions,” says researcher Michael Lombardo. The

Results of the study are contrary to the 10 year rule, which states that innate ability is not a prerequisite to expertise, but that people become experts of a specific skill after putting in ten years (roughly 10 000) hours of practice.

Instead of ten years of training, the researchers found that once they receive training, future world class athletes can take less than three years to get to ‘make it’.